“Every lie is a poison; there are no harmless lies. Only the truth is safe. Only the truth gives me consolation - it is the only unbreakable diamond.”
Leo Tolstoy


  1. What is a pathological liar?
  2. Differences between a pathological and a compulsive liar
  3. Pathological liar traits
  4. How to spot a pathological liar
  5. Dating a pathological liar

Lying has long been an unchangeable companion of our modern life. We are faced with untruth in absolutely every sphere of life: at work, at home, in personal life, in friendship. Perhaps, there is no area in which people always speak only the truth. However, in most cases, untruth is told by pathological liars.

pathological liars

What is a pathological liar?

Let's get acquainted with the definition of a pathological liar. A pathological liar is a psychological type of personality; a man who often lies, trying to impress others. In medical literature, this type of personality was first described more than 100 years ago. Some psychologists believe that pathological liars are different from the ordinary in that a pathological liar is sure that he tells the truth, and at the same time lives the part. However, many don’t fully agree with this interpretation, but they share the same opinion that pathological lying is a special mental state. Although the term "pathological liar" isn’t used in clinical diagnosis, most psychiatrists believe that this type of person is either the result of a psychiatric illness or a low self-esteem.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of a pathological liar. Psychologists attribute the occurrence of this disorder - that is, a person's propensity for pathological lying - to a number of traumatic events that happened to a person in childhood. This can be a constant humiliation and criticism from adults, lack of love from parents, unrequited first love or rejection of the opposite sex, which leads to low self-esteem during adolescence. Sometimes the same disorder can occur even in adulthood after a traumatic brain injury. Also, researchers at the University of Southern California have determined that pathological lying has a physical grounding.

Their conclusion is that the brain of pathological liars differs from the norm: in its prefrontal cortex the capacity of gray matter (neurons) is reduced and the volume of white matter (nerve fibers connecting the brain regions) is increased by 22%. This part of the brain is responsible for learning moral behavior and a sense of repentance. The gray matter consists of brain cells, and the white is a kind of "connecting wire" between them. The excess of white matter increases the ability of pathological liars to lie and undermines their morale. Our morality and the proper behavior pattern aren’t obligatory for them, although in childhood these people were taught that lies are bad.

Pathological lying should be considered as part of a basic psychological personality disorder, rather than a separate defect. It should be noted that this disorder is one of the most controversial subjects in today's world of psychology. The consequences of hopeless lies can be the most unpredictable, both for the victim of deception and for the liar himself.

Differences between a pathological and a compulsive liar

People of this type always act under the influence of internal motivation, and not external factors. In other words, they lie not so much in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the truth, but for the sake of entertainment.

Pathological liars are not so easy to recognize, especially if you are not that familiar or at the beginning of a relationship. They may seem interesting, smart, sociable, charming. Their true face opens only with time, and then communication becomes strained. Endless lies can destroy friendship, love, working relationships and even family.

Pathological liars:

  • lie for a specific purpose,
  • invent fantastic stories that can be endlessly supplemented with new details,
  • they themselves believe everything that they spit indignant when they are suspected of cheating,
  • they lie to strengthen their authority,
  • they do not blush and do not feel awkward.

Compulsive Liars:

they seriously believe that they are obliged to lie: either because they do not know how to do it differently, or if it is inconvenient, to tell the truth, they often lie for no apparent reason and without any benefit, they compose fables on the go, not really thinking about credibility, they prefer lies that, as they feel, others would like to hear, as a rule, they feel someone else's distrust, when they are caught, they confess that they are lying, but continue to fool others.

Pathological liar traits

Besides telling untruth, there are certain things that pathological liars tend to do consciously and unconsciously. We offer to your attention some signs of a pathological liar. If you can recognize these "symptoms", then it won’t be difficult to smoke a liar out.

  • Exaggerating his arguments to give them a faithful look, a liar can go to such an extreme when his statements become ridiculous. The most remarkable thing is that often he doesn’t notice the degree of exaggeration.
  • While an ordinary person may find it difficult to maintain a prolonged eye contact when dealing with unfamiliar people, the liar is able to do this with ease.
  • A pathological liar likes to be in the spotlight, so without hesitation, he will talk even inconceivable nonsense in order to maintain interest in himself.
  • The tendency to lie arises at a young age. Over the years, it’s increasingly difficult for a person to tell the truth.
  • pathological liarsPathological lies are difficult to control. An attentive spectator will notice that the same story from the mouth of a liar changes from time to time. The liar confuses details, dates, and names. In a new company, he can tell the same story with other details. It’s one of the most abundant pathological liar signs.
  • In addition to a big, detailed lie, such a person lies about trifles where there is no obvious need. For example, he can name different cities where he was born.
  • If you try to recheck the facts through questions, a pathological liar immediately takes a defensive position or makes an attempt to change the subject of the conversation.
  • Pathological liars are extremely impulsive. They always act "here and now," so the reproduced lies are sufficiently inconsistent.
  • Basically, liars believe that they are always right, while others are wrong. It's this unshakable self-righteous belief that exerts a very downward pressure on them. Also, they take exception to the obvious with great tenacity.
  • There is nothing sacred for a pathological liar. He can lie about someone's serious illness or death, cast dirt at his loved ones, and easily talk nasty things about your common acquaintances.
  • The only case when a pathological liar is able to plead guilty to lying: when the detection of lies can actually do harm to his work, family or life - that is, make an unhappy reality even worse. And his confession usually takes place in such a form that is anything but confession.

Before unmasking others, armed with typical signs of a lie, it must be remembered that if a person demonstrates several signs from this list, it doesn’t mean that he is a pathological liar. Conviction, as well as accusations, must be approached with very serious reasons and evidence, so check your observations through the prism of doubt, compare them with remarks of other people and only then draw appropriate conclusions about a person.

How to spot a pathological liar

There are 5 ways that can help you spot a pathological liar.

Listen to the voice of a liar

Listen to the voice timbre. It’s very important when dealing with a pathological liar. Perhaps you will be surprised, but the timbre and intonation of the voice can help you spot the pathological liar. It's quite simple: if a person speaks flawlessly with considerable confidence and without being meticulous in the choice of words - most likely, he tells you the truth. If your interlocutor, on the contrary, constantly minces the "necessary" words, looks visibly nervous and slightly hesitates when speaking - you should think: maybe you deal with a pathological liar.

However, pay attention: in some cases, signs of lies are similar to excitement. For example, your interlocutor may stutter because of excitement or fatigue. That is why, in order to make sure that you are 100% deceived, you need to pay attention to other additional factors.


Pauses don’t always denote a deception but can indicate the need for a liar to think about the next line of behavior. There may be too long or frequent pauses before answering a question, repetition of questions, inappropriate interjections, as well as sudden vocal jitters and changes in tonality. If a person wants to hide fear or anger, his voice becomes louder, and while attempting to hide sadness or resentment - deeper.

Ask an unexpected question

This way to spot a pathological liar is considered not only the most effective but also interesting (from a psychological point of view).

Let's take a simple example: your colleague tells you a new tale, and you doubt its veracity. Politely apologize and ask a completely unexpected, and at the same time, elementary question. The reaction will tell you if he has told you the truth. If your interlocutor is confused, begins to stutter and gropes for an answer for a long time, most likely you deal with a pathological liar. If he quickly understands the pith of the matter and gives a detailed answer, you are told only the truth.

Show indifference to a liar

Pretend that the conversation is absolutely uninteresting to you. If your interlocutor told you only the truth, he will ask you a logical question: "Are you ok? What's wrong with you?" In this case, you won’t feel obvious disappointment or anger. If your interlocutor is genuinely angry and begins to make sharp remarks, most likely you are "lucky" to talk with a pathological liar. Remember: a person, who is used to lying every time, doesn’t tolerate indifference to his "stories". In such a situation, the pathological liar doesn’t ask what has happened to you. Instead, the liars begin to sincerely blame you for indifference.

pathological liarsUse the forgetfulness of a liar

A pathological liar always forgets the minor details of the conversation. Try the following method when dealing with a pathological liar. After a few minutes of the conversation, ask your interlocutor to repeat the phrase uttered two minutes ago. It’s desirable to ask the question quite naturally: "Please, could you repeat what you have said? I haven't heard what happened at that moment."

This method will help you spot the pathological liar quickly and effectively. If your interlocutor can’t remember what exactly he said just a couple of minutes ago - this is a clear sign of a lie.

Dating a pathological liar

Dating a pathological liar is always very complicated. You should have plenty of patience and steel nerves. There are 6 useful tips on how to deal with a pathological liar.

1. Find evidence of a lie

Write down every case of lies that you see with a detailed description of why you consider this is a lie. Do a research to find evidence that your loved one really lies. You must be able to show the liar that you are sure about his lies.

2. Talk to the beloved in private

Drawing someone's attention to his shortcomings in public places can be perceived rather coldly, and, most likely, won’t help to change a liar. It’s better to discuss this issue in private so that feelings of shame and embarrassment don’t whip up the tension to a critical point. Tell the person calmly that you are confident in his lies. Give an example of a specific lie or deception that you want to discuss.

3. Give the liar an opportunity to explain his lies

Watch attentively the body language of your loved one to determine the signs of lying. Listen to his excuses. If he confesses that he has lied and apologizes, you may not need to continue sorting out your relationship. Discuss this question completely and finish the conversation, telling the partner that you hope it won’t happen again.

4. Demonstrate all your evidence against the lie

If the partner defends, makes excuses or is still lying, this is an auspicious moment to provide him with the evidence. Show him letters, documents or other evidence you have collected, which, of course, prove that he has deceived you. At this time, you drive the liar into a corner, and he will most likely either keep silent or apologize.

5. Recommend psychological treatment

Do you bother yourself how to help a pathological liar? Tell the partner that the pathological lying is curable. Encourage him to seek help before he loses the confidence of everyone around him. After all, liars are usually exposed, and as a consequence, they can lose their jobs, destroy relationships, and lose all the chances of living an honest life. Can a pathological liar change his behavior? Yes, of course. With a strong desire, it’s possible.

6. Think whether you need such a person

Perhaps you need time to finally recover from the deceit of the person you have trusted in. Remember that not all people are the same. Take on faith that most people are honest with each other. Reconsider your attitude towards the person who has lied or betrayed you. Forgive him. Do this at least for your inner quietness.

Comments (2)
18.02.2020 11:48
Yes, there are such people and the worst thing is that they do not even realize that they are lying. It is very unpleasant to be in a relationship with such a person. But I think that you can fight this and change your loved one over time.
06.05.2020 15:44
I personally believe that you should never start a relationship with a pathological liar if you know in advance that they are just that. If so, you basically just agree to wasting your time, wasting your nerves, and your love on someone who will turn your life into miserable hell. Sure, we are not always in control of who we fall in love with, but still, be cautious.

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